Apple worried as iPhone owners delay upgrades

Stable for years or cause for alarm?

Stable for years or cause for alarm?

Is Apple worried that iPhone owners aren’t upgrading fast enough? That’s the suggestion from those statistics from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) today? I lack the time to really get stuck into these claims, but I did take one minute to draw a thin red line down their graph.

When I did I found that while there has been some change, it seems to show that the age of the previous iPhone of iPhone purchasers has been pretty stable for the last 2.5-years. So what on earth is all the fuss about?

Now, 2013 was a special year. Touch ID, a 64-bit chip, an Asia-focused gold model and (a little later) an iPhone 5C model which created a new pattern in iPhone sales, (one we’ll see emerge once again now Apple has a new lower cost model) .

But within months the pattern had become fairly static, as CIRP figures show.

What CIRP could also have said is that over the past almost three years the average age of a new iPhone buyer’s previous iPhone has remained fairly static. They could also point out a growing upgrade opportunity among iPhone users toting devices three or more years old. I wonder why they didn’t say that?

Instead they said, “Overall, over the past almost three years the average age of a new iPhone buyer’s previous iPhone has increased by approximately three months.” The researchers then claimed blame was due to the need for new iPhone features and a change in US carrier subsidy deals. Perhaps they’d not noticed Apple’s move to launch the iPhone Upgrade Program?

So, are iPhones lasting longer? I tried to dig out some previous claims about smartphone life spans. Kantar last year said Apple iPhone users hang onto their smartphones for 25-months on average, adding:

“Since September 2014, 32 percent of US iPhone owners have replaced their devices. Among those users, 47 percent replaced their phones with an iPhone 6, and 16 percent with a 6 Plus, according to Kantar.

“In contrast, between September 2013 and July 2014, only 22 percent of iPhone users upgraded their devices: 44 percent upgraded to the 5s, and 17 percent to the 5c.” [Direct Quote from source].

Do those claims tally with the CIRP figures? They seem to, given that many users are still on three-plus year old devices.

I also came across Ben Taylor’s claim (based on CTA data) that smartphones have a 4.6-year useful life.

I do wonder what kind of device Apple might have in the pipeline to convince those using older models to upgrade?

Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

2 Responses

  1. Ponter says:

    Obviously there’s a conflict here between Apple’s desire to see people upgrade their phones every ten minutes and the ecologically responsible obligation to keep perfectly functional equipment viable (i.e.. no forced upgrades via various manipulations like EOL OSes). Especially when the “upgrades” are fairly trivial. Apple’s move to “disposable” equipment has been a major disappointment to many of us.

    • Jonny Evans says:

      I think you’re being myopically unfair there.., Apple does a lot more to recycle and stay green than competitors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.